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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.


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23/24.03.1940 No. 37 Squadron Wellington IA P2515 LF-H F/O. Templeman

Operation: Nickel

Date: 23/24th March 1940 (Saturday/Sunday)

Unit: No. 37 Squadron

Type: Vickers Wellington IA

Serial: P2515

Code: LF-H

Base: RAF Feltwell, Norfolk

Location: Delmenhorst, near Bremen, Germany

Pilot: F/O. Philip Francis Templeman 39767 RAF Age 22. Died of injuries

Pilot (2nd): Sgt. Douglas Warren Wilson 566477 RAF Age 23. Killed

W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. K.R. Say 580731 RAFVR PoW No: 194. Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: LAC E. Lawson 619063 RAFVR PoW No: 13072 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3)

W/Op/Air/Gnr: AC1 J.A. Burke 631520 RAFVR PoW No: 13111 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus (357)

Air/Gnr: LAC. J.R. Clark 538337 RAFVR PoW No: 13070 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria (L3)

REASON FOR LOSS

Took-off at 22:51hrs. from RAF Feltwell. Shot down by flak and crashed in flames near Delmenhorst, 02:00 hrs. (German time) Sgt. Wilson died in the crash.

F/O. Templeman died from his dreadful burns seven days later on the 31st March 1940. The four other crew members Sgt. Say, LAC. Lawson, AC1. Burke, and LAC. Clark all became PoW. (Brief details shown above)

Above left: F/O. Philip Francis Templeman and right: Sgt. Douglas Warren Wilson (courtesy of Philip Jay Templeman)

In November 2010 local residents to the crash site arranged a memorial plaque placed at the crash site and also a memorial stone placed at the graves of the two airman where they rest side by side.

The memorial stone and plaque to be used at the ceremony (courtesy Peter Schmidt)

These photos of the remains of P2515 were taken the next day at crash site, by one of a number of high ranking German Officers, who along with a large number of civilians visited the crash.

The memorial service (courtesy Karl Heinz Knief via Peter Schmidt)

The brother of Sgt. Douglas Wilson at the crash site November 2010 (courtesy Karl Heinz Knief via Peter Schmidt)

F/O. Templeman and Sgt. Wilson original grave markers

Burial details:

F/O. Philip Francis Templeman. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave/Ref: Plot 27, Row J, Grave 9. Son of Edgar and Ethel Emma Templeman, of St. John's, Newfoundland.

Sgt. Douglas Warren Wilson. Becklingen War Cemetery. Grave/Ref: Plot 27, Row J, Grave 10. Son of Herbert William and Ethel Alice Wilson, of Coventry, England.

Meyvis Luc from Belgium sent us a copy of the German Luftwaffe magazine article from “Der Adler” (literally "The Eagle") dated 02nd April 1940 - in May 2016. A mainly propaganda publication. Following this Cecilia Rutledge Wilson managed to have it translated for us through a friend. She admits her translation skills may not be 100% but clearly the translation does point out what they have written. What follows are photographs from the German Newspaper "Der Adler", :

"Der Adler" was a biweekly Nazi propaganda magazine published by the Scherl Verlag, founded by August Scherl, with the support of the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe)

“DER ADLER”

How they brought down the Wellington.

Once again the English have attempted to penetrate the airspace of the Reich. By day it has become too dangerous for them, so now they come at night. The question of what exactly they want over the darkened Germany is a justified one. They can’t do reconnaissance nor can they take photos. But “fight” with pamphlets. That, they can do.

The Vickers-Wellington we’re dealing with here was loaded with pamphlets and it can be assumed that these pamphlets, which were written for German housewives and mothers, were so completely dumb and unsophisticated that absolutely no one would have fallen for them.

But in reality the British didn’t even get a chance to drop them: Shortly after they crossed the North Sea Coast, they were caught in the searchlights and never escaped their merciless fangs. The tracer munitions from the Flak flew up at the Brits and their effect was discernible after a few shots. Where the search lights had only shown the stark outline of the plane, there was now the red glow of fire. This glow rapidly grew deeper, and from the Flak position one could see that the plane was going to come down quite nearby.

But that’s where farmer Becker lives (right) with his son and his whole family. Becker had been awakened by the sound of weapons fire, ran to the window and was immediately blinded by a tremendous blaze of fire. Followed by his son, he sprang out of the window and ran toward the blazing aircraft.

Three men jumped out of the plane, threw themselves to the ground, and then got up again. A fourth lay badly injured next to the aircraft.

The Beckers - the son had been a soldier and knew what had to be done - took the Englishmen prisoner. They recognised that any attempt to escape was hopeless and surrendered. They could not make themselves understood to the Germans but they kept pointing and gesturing to the front part of the aircraft which was burning intensely. It then became apparent that there was a man inside who had not been able to rescue himself from the flaming wreckage. It was sergeant Wilson, who had died the death of an airman in the cockpit.

Left: A member of the crew of the Wellington-bomber after being taken to the military hospital. German doctors bandaged the injured Englishman and he was in good spirits as he responded to questions from German pilots.

Suddenly loud cries in the English language came from near their position and a fifth Englishman emerged from the darkness, the tail-gunner, Lawson. Shortly before the landing he had jumped out with a parachute and had come to the ground safely. In the meantime the brave men from the Flak artillery and pilots from the nearby airbase.

The older Becker properly bound one of the Englishmen in his living room and then the five of them started off on their way to prisoner-of-war status, after the severely wounded man was taken to the hospital. In their prison they will have plenty of time to think about the effectiveness of propaganda flights over Germany.

In the night before Easter Sunday an English airplane of the type Vickers-Wellington was shot down by German Flak. Five men from the crew could be rescued from the burning wreck. The second airman, Sergeant Douglas Wilson, lost his life in the flames.

Right: This is the ammunition from the machine guns in the Vickers-Wellington that was shot down. It did not get a chance to be used against German planes.

At the feet of the German Air Force Officer lie the steel cylinders containing the oxygen for use when flying at high altitudes.





Left: These four brave boys are the crew of the Flak gun that brought down the Englishmen. They stand proudly over the remains of their enemy.



The picture above: The pitiable remains of a proud Wellington bomber. The picture also shows the rear of the craft with the tail-gunner’s station.

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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